Recently I visited a ranch here in my area where they have regular team roping events. Just basically a community affair get-together. I saw a fellow I had met before, who was in the vent, and said Hi to him. I asked him, "practicin eh?" And he replied, "No, not practicing. We're roping."
Now you gotta understand me...I'm just a pleasure/trail rider who just got back to riding a couple years ago after 30 years of having been away from it. But the passion and love for the whole scene burns big time within me. It's in my blood, as my dad was a horseman and rodeo cowboy. We put on rodeos and such. I just love the atmosphere and like to be around these events, the cowpokes, horses and the whole nine yards. And I like to be sociable and "talk the talk" and just "be one of the guys".
So, this fellow, in his rugged stand-offishness shows me I'm not "part of the club yet" with his comment. That's okay. I met him before when I was first looking into getting my own horses and got to know him a little.
Another time at a rodeo I saw him and talked to him briefly. He was at the rodeo with a couple of his horses to enter the team roping event again. As I was exchanging pleasantries with him I went to pet one of his horses and it kind of spooked away from me. He said to me, "they aren't pets. You pet dogs, not horses." With that, I simply said that I had no problem with petting horses and left him to his business...seeing quite clearly where he was at.
The ironic thing is...concerning my comment about "practicin eh?"...in my way of thinking, and respecting the true cowboy history, what they were doing in the team roping even was exactly that. They are practicing/playing in a sporting event what true cowboys do as part of their everyday life on the ranch. Team roping is done when roping and dragging the calves to the fire for branding. To me, this is exactly what it is...a sport made out of a real life job...practicing what cowboys do for an honest living.
So, these animals aren't to be our "pets" but we can use them for a SPORT for our own amusement, pride and ego?! We can keep them tied up at a rodeo, standing in the dry heat all day...usually without water, standing there with saddles on in the dust and heat...for 3 or 4 hours waiting for our 2 minutes of glory out in the rodeo arena.
But they aren't pets. No, don't you dare pet them, love on them or treat them like special creatures worthy of our affection. No, they are just tools or articles of sport to be worked and sweated up for our own amusement...as though they owe us something.
So far removed from this heartlessness...I love to just see my horses running free with their other horsey buddies out on the field. Part of my joy is to see my horse run off to be with her buddies after a ride. There is just SO much joy in horses...if one has the eyes and heart to see it!